Fig. 1. Photo of Sigmund Bowman Alexander 1910.

He was employed in the insurance and money exchange business. He was also a writer, novelist, playwright and involved in the theatre.

Copyright © 2000-2019 John N. Lupia III

Sigmund Bowman Alexander (1864-1912), Brookline, Massachusetts. Coin dealer and principal of the firm of Alexander & Company. He was born on March 16, 1864 at Boston, son of Jacob Alexander (1834-post 1820) and Maria Bowman Alexander (1846- post 1820). His father was a Jewish immigrant from Germany and his mother was a native of Massachusetts. Maria Bowman was the daughter of an Englishman and a German mother.

As a youth he lived with his parents and two sisters : Mrs. Florence B. Gems (1867-) and Grace (1869-), and his brother Alfred (1873-), on Columbus Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts.

He may have traveled to his grandparents homelands in 1882 if he is identical to Sigmund Alexander listed incorrectly as being a 15 years old in the New York Passenger Lists. If so, then in 1882 he sailed on the Ship Line of North German Lloyd, SS Elbe to Bremen Germany and Southampton, England and returned arriving at New York on December 4, 1882.

He was engaged as a specie broker and insurance broker as a young man circa 1883, though his publications claims 1873 when he was just 9 years old. He dealt in United States and foreign coins, paper money and U. S. postage stamps as postal money or encased stamps in the day when coin dealers Henry Ahlborn, and Wilhelm von Bergen, as well as Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., and William Elliot Woodward were also dealing at Boston. Alexander began publishing coin catalogues with a neat format about 1883 that continued until he changed the title to The Hub Coin Book in 1895.

Fig. 2. Alexander & Co., United States and Foreign Coin Catalogue. 4th edition 1886. The Logo shows British Pounds Sterling Exchanged to United States Dollars on tattered scratch paper, and Specie Brokers Boston Mass. inscribed on a ribbon, undoubtedly drawn by Sigmund Alexander. No inclusion of Postal Currency in this edition. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

His first known novel was published in 1887, Ten of Us: Original Stories and Sketches. (Boston : Laughton, McDonald & Co., 1887)

Fig. 3. Alexander & Co. advertisement published on the endpaper of his first known novel Ten of Us: Original Stories and Sketches. (Boston : Laughton, McDonald & Co., 1887). Note the inclusion of Postal Currency in the later edition.

On January 3, 1888, his brokerage house was broken into by Patrick J. Geary, an unemployed widower with two starving children who grabbed the Swedish money from the storefront window after he smashed the glass to seize it.

Fig. 4. “A Hungry Man’s Crime,” Phillipsburg Herald, Friday, January 13, 1888; “Starving Children” The Humboldt Union, Saturday, January 7, 1888, page 2; “A Hungry Man’s Crime,” The Daily Commonwealth, Wednesday, January 4, 1888, page 1

He wrote his second known novel in 1888, The Veiled Beyond : A Romance of the Adepts (New York : Cassell, 1888)

Fig. 5. Alexander & Co. business letter sent to the Chapman Brothers, postmarked Boston, June 3, 1889, 4:30 PM, with an order for $14.08 in coins. Note the change in logo design from 1886. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

There are currently three pieces of correspondence from Alexander & Company to the Chapman Brothers catalogued in the Lupia Numismatic Library. When the years 1909 to 1912 are complete an update shall be given on the total and perhaps a few more photographs.

Fig. 6. Boston Herald, Monday, July 20, 1891, page 3. Announcement of his play Judith to be performed at the Globe Theatre, Boston, on September 28th, 1891.

Fig. 7. Springfield Republican, Sunday, October 4, 1891, page 3. First review of his play Judith starring Mademoiselle Rhea at the Globe Theatre.

In 1892 he coauthored a book with Emil Blum, Who Lies? : An Interrogation. (Boston : Arena Publishing Co., 1892)

In 1894, he wrote the play King Winter’s Carnival : A Musical Play For Children (New York : Wehman Bros., 1894); and A Moral Blot (Boston : Arena Publishing Co., 1894)

Fig. 8. Boston Herald, Tuesday, March 19, 1895, page 9. His play King Winter’s Carnival : A Musical Play For Children was performed at the Bijou Opera House, Boston, by the Adath Israel Sabbath School students in March 1895.

Alexander & Company met with such great success selling the United States and Foreign Coin Catalogue that they went into a subdivision as a book publisher and bookbinder for their coin book renaming it The Hub Coin Book.

On June 8, 1896 he married at the Adath Israel Temple, Boston, to Blanch Liebmann (1871-1922) of Baltimore, Maryland, daughter of Dr. Augustus “Gustav” and Fanny Liebmann. They had a daughter Ruth Liebmann Alexander (1897-). They lived at 210 West Newton Street, Boston, Massachusetts.

Fig. 9. Boston Journal, June 9, 1896, report on the wedding ceremony of Sigmund Alexander and his wife Blanch Liebmann.

In 1897, he wrote another moral novel, Two Women : A Moral Blot (Chicago : Laird & Lee, 1897)

Fig. 10. Boston Herald, Sunday, January 12, 1902, page 26. Announcement of two new plays by Alexander, Nobility, and, Aims and Ends, to be performed at Madison Square Garden, New York.

His first mail bid auction was held on March 14, 1904.

Fig. 11. Alexander & Co. business postal card announcing the 12th edition of the New Hub Coin Book. No books were mailed on approval or time clearly indicated by his message to an inquiry from Akron, Ohio. "Coin Books mailed on rec't of price as above." Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

City Directories of 1903 & 1904 & 1905 published his office address at 214 Washington Street, Brookline, Massachusetts; and his home at 18 Shailer Street.

Fig. 12. Alexander & Co. Mail Auction Catalogue for his second mail bid auction set for October 31, 1904, sent to Joseph L. Weber., postmarked Boston, Massachusetts, August 22, 1904. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 12. Alexander & Co. The New Hub Coin Book. 14th Edition 1905 . Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Thomas Lindsay Elder imitated or adopted this color scheme and design inspired by Alexander, but changed the silver to gilt stamped for his 1906 coin auction catalogues.

A Bird in the Hand : A Farce in One Act (New York : M. Whitmark & Sons, 1906); Yankee Doodle’s Birthday : A Patriotic Sketch For Children (New York : M. Whitmark & Sons, 1906)

The City Directory of 1907 published his office address at 214 Washington Street, Brookline, Massachusetts; and his home at 82 Naples Road, Brookline, Massachusetts.

Fig. 13. Alexander & Co. The Hub Coin Book. 16th Edition 1908 . Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 14. Sunday Herald, May 15, 1 . Alexander's play Poster Folk performed at Copley Hall, Boston, May 1910.

Fig. 15. Boston Journal, Saturday, January 6, 1912, page 3. Death announcement of Alexander citing his profession in insurance.

He died at the age of 47 and 10 months of cerebral hemorrhage on January 5, 1912 at his in-law’s home, 82 Naples Road, Brookline, Massachusetts. He is survived by his wife Blanche. He is buried at Wakefield, Massachusetts. Obituary Boston Transcript, January 5, 1912; The Insurance Yearbook, Volume 40 (1912) : 509 obituary.

The estate of Alexander managed by his wife Blanch kept publishing the Hub Coin Book and publishing it from her home state and city, Baltimore, Maryland by I. & M. Ottenheimer printers.

Fig. 16. Alexander & Co. The Hub Coin Book. 18th Edition 1912 . Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. The Hub Coin Book went into at least 34 Editions.


[01] March 14, 1904

[02] October 31, 1904

[03] November 27, 1905

[04] October 10, 1910

[05] March 14, 1911

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